While life on the resort may live out like something out of a novel, every good story needs an adventure. Whether you are staying five or seven days, taking a day or a few hours for a jaunt outside of the resort is necessary. Once you step outside of your resort in Dominican Republic, you’ll have the chance to take in the country’s sights, sounds, and, culture. Here are some of our favourite activities to do off the resort. 

Santo Domingo

If you’re going to be spending time in the Dominican Republic, you should most definitely take time to see its capital city, Santo Domingo. Most resorts offer guided day tours to the city, which is two hours away from Punta Cana. Being the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the Americas, Santo Domingo is a historic wonder.

What is most intriguing about it is that around all of its’ beautiful history and colonial architecture exists a bustling urban city – the Palacio Nacional, the President’s office, sits in the center. Medieval buildings face stores and pharmacies; restaurants and street vendors line the city’s cobblestone streets; and politicians ride through the city in cars with tinted windows, security and police officers in tow, without locals batting an eye – signaling that this is an ordinary scene in Santo Domingo. Cathedrals sit in vast plazas where locals and tourists lounge on benches or sidewalks to take a break in the hot, humid weather. The city is a natural mix of old-world and new, and gives a glimpse through the ages; Medieval and Renaissance Spanish architecture meets new, Latin flare. Here are some must sees:

Alcázar de Colón

This house is one of the Dominican Republic’s oldest colonial residences. It was the home of Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus. He lived there until 1523, when he was recalled to Spain, after which the home was left to relatives. This house was the sight of meetings with members of the Spanish court, and was the space where colonial projects were planned.

Now, the house functions as a museum detailing each room’s function during Colón’s time, complete with authentic furniture, tapestries, and décor. Take a winding staircase to the second floor, and you are rewarded with a view of Santo Domingo from the wide terrace.

Catedral Primada de América

This impressive cathedral is the first ever built in the Americas, begun in 1512 and completed in 1540. It has a total of 12 side chapels inside, each dedicated to a different saint. The cathedral also displays an array of art, furniture, and jewelry. The building, made out of limestone, is beautiful inside and out. In keeping with Santo Domingo’s effortless blend of old world and new, Mass is still held at the Cathedral on Sundays.

Our tip: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

Horseback Riding Excursion

Horseback riding tours allow you to see a part of the Dominican Republic that most tourists don’t get to see. Most tours will pick you up at your resort in the morning and bring you to the ranch, and shuttle you back after your tour is over.

The rides are for all skill levels, with opportunities to trot or gallop at your comfort level. The tours typically last two hours and will take you through mountains covered with thick trees that line the landscape of Punta Cana, before continuing to the most beautiful expanse of unpopulated white-sand beach front. You can even venture into the sea with your horse. These aren’t your standard, follow-the-leader horse rides, either. Once on the beach, the guides stay close, but you have free reign to explore the beach at your own pace with your horse.

Our tip: Don’t forget to bring bug repellent and to wear a hat.

Saona Island Boat Tour

Saona is a tropical island located a short distance from the mainland of the Dominican Republic. It is a government protected nature reserve, famous for its natural beauty and clear blue water. Christopher Columbus named the island Saona in honor of the Italian city Savona, where he lived at the time. You can take a boat tour by catamaran or speed boat to the island.

Our tips: Wear sunscreen and hat.

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